Lake Ontario and the area that became Ontario was a key battleground during the War of 1812. Upper Canada, the predecessor of modern Ontario, was created in 1791 by the division of the old colony of Quebec into Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west. A wilderness society settled largely by Loyalists and land-hungry farmers moving north from the United States, Upper Canada endured war with America, an armed rebellion, and half a century of economic and political growing pains until it was merged again with its French-speaking counterpart into the Province of Canada.
Upper Canada – The Canadian Encyclopedia
During the War there were three theatres, but varying in significance as well as the fierceness of the encounters.
The most significant ones on land were: Detroit Frontier – the Battle of Fort Michilimackinac (see A is for Anishinaabe); and on the Niagara Frontier – Queenston Heights fought on October 13, 1812 on the Niagara Escarpment (Q will be for Queenston – but see also B is for Brock), and most notably the Battle of York fought on April 27, 1813, in York (present-day Toronto), the capital of the province of Upper Canada (Y will be for York).
A scene on Lake Ontario – United States sloop of war Gen. Pike, Commodore Chauncey, and the British sloop of war Wolfe, Sir James Yeo, preparing for action, September 28, 1813. Published and sold by Shelton & Kennet, Cheshire, Con. November 1st 1813
There were also engagements on Lake Ontario, a prolonged naval contest for control of the lake during the War. Few actions were fought, none of which had decisive results, and the contest essentially became a naval building race, sometimes referred to sarcastically as the “Battle of the Carpenters”. Both sides (especially the British) renamed, re-rigged and re-armed their ships several times during the war. Both sides also possessed several unarmed schooners or other small vessels for use as transports or tenders.
Because neither side had been prepared to risk everything in a decisive attack on the enemy fleet or naval base, the result of all the construction effort on Lake Ontario was an expensive draw. The great demands for men and materials made by both squadrons adversely affected other parts of the war effort in the region.
Blockhouse and Battery in Old Fort, Toronto, 1812, [ca. 1921] C. W. Jefferys Pen and ink drawing on paper 29.2 cm x 36.8 cm (11.5″ x 14.5″) Government of Ontario Art Collection, 621228
During the war, Upper Canada, whose inhabitants were predominantly American in origin, was invaded and partly occupied. American forces were repulsed by British regulars assisted by Canadian militia. The war strengthened the British link, rendered loyalism a hallowed creed, fashioned martyr-heroes such as Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh, and appeared to legitimize the political status quo.
The war ended Upper Canada’s isolation. American immigration was formally halted, but Upper Canada received an increased number of British newcomers — some with capital to spend.
PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS
A is for Anishinaabe ~ B is for Brock ~ C is for Coloured Corps ~ D is for Detroit ~ E is for Erie ~ F is for First Nations ~ G is for Ghent ~ H is for Harrison ~ I is for Impressment ~ J is for Jackson ~ K is for Key ~ L is for Lundy’s ~ M is for for Madison ~ N is for New Orleans
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.
My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.
Further reading on The War of 1812: